Missing a Trick
Smartphones are quickly becoming our window to the world, not only replacing Filofaxes and photo albums, but also, transforming the way we search for information, buy goods and communicate with each other.
Gone are the days of moving from shop to shop to compare prices, or even using a laptop or PC to browse online. Smartphones and Tablets allow us to do these things on the move, whilst we watch television or on our daily commute.
Increasingly, people are using mobile devices to participate in retail transactions. While it’s no longer uncommon to shop via mobile, personal banking (also a retail transaction in itself) lags behind in adoption rates. As retailers take strides in mobile, the gap between how we shop and how we bank is widening.
Go into any bank at 10am on a Saturday and you will see for yourself how many people still use physical bank branches to manage their money. Similarly, cashpoints are endlessly busy nearly any day of the week. This is because banks, to date, have not adequately taken advantage of mobile as a conduit for providing personal banking services.
There are, of course, exceptions and many banks now have apps which allow us to at least check our balances and transfer payments. However, these services are often time consuming, poorly designed, and don’t allow users to carry out their desired transactions.
There is a huge opportunity in the market for banks to showcase innovation, while retaining customers and delivering a comprehensive banking experience. It seems that many banks are not taking advantage of the Tablet and smartphone channels as much as they could be - for customers, banking is often seen as an arduous, rather than an enjoyable experience. If banks are to compete with the PayPals, Intuits and Squares of this world, it is imperative that they reinvent themselves.
The rise of seamless, interesting and enjoyable apps and services have heightened overall customer expectations. Smartphone and Tablet users now expect a new standard of design; it will no longer do to simply have a mobile-enabled website which is poorly laid out, difficult to navigate and provides only the most basic of functions. Users want to transfer cash and make online payments at the push of a button. Indeed, the whole point of mobile is that it makes things easier and more accessible. Accordingly, today’s consumers expect quality Tablet and mobile services to look and feel different from old-style PC software, and banks need to design these with the user in mind.
As a result, there is a massive opportunity for banks to design services that act as a financial assistant, rather than just poorly-envisaged transactional applications. Customers look for banks that meet their specific individual needs, rather than the generic needs of the bank’s ‘clone customer,’ and a bank’s mobile services should reflect this. Strong visuals and data interactions can provide customers with detailed insight into how they are spending their money, acting as more of a 24/7 financial assistant than simply a ‘banking app.’
Additionally, by offering advice, deals and investments, banks will need to keep up with digital wallet players like Google and PayPal, who will naturally start to include offers, recommendations and loyalty schemes in their digital wallet offerings, creating competition with the banks. With the amount of data that a bank possesses about its customers, these types of tailored offerings could be very effective in providing the personal touch that many crave when it comes to their finances.
Because of its direct impact on the consumer, design needs to be central to a bank’s mobile strategy, not an afterthought. As such, banks should design services with the user in mind, focusing on developing new use cases which provide a seamless, easy-to-use experience, thus encouraging users to interact with money in new, innovative ways. Not only would doing so save on queues in-branch, it would also make thousands of mobile users much more satisfied with their banking experience, increasing customer loyalty and retention, while transforming a bank’s operating model. If banks are to move forward, they need to stop looking backwards and instead look forward to recognise the opportunities that exist in today’s digital world.
Olof Schybergson is CEO of Fjord